Saturday, March 10, 2012

Jack's Autism Awareness

Photo by Katie Dance

Jack has known about his autism for years. I've always wanted it to be something that has sort of always been in his consciousness rather than sitting him down when he's older and laying such a big concept on him, as if it were a secret when he was younger.

I tell Jack and his brothers that everybody's brains work differently and it just so happens that the way Jack's brain works has a name, and that name is autism. Everyone has things they are good at and things they have trouble with. It's just that it is different for everyone.

Recently, however, Jack has really started to quietly investigate his autism. He's been telling people, "I have autism," or upon meeting new people, asking them, "Do you know that I have autism?" I see this as the first steps in figuring out for himself what autism means to him and how he is going to approach it in life.

Needless to say, I am watching with interest.

The other day, we were in the waiting room before Jack's OT session. There was another kid there, who is often there when we are. He has a visible disability and, although I get the impression that he does speak sometimes, he rarely does in the waiting room.

This child was trying to interact with Jack. The two of them weren't in sync. Jack was under a chair (he likes to be under things) watching this other child. After trying to get Jack's attention a couple of times, he walked over to a child gate in the hallway and started to play with the mechanism.

Jack started to get interested. "He must have autism," he said to me. He came out from under the chair and walked up to the other boy. "Do you have autism?" he asked.

The other boy didn't answer and then his therapist came out to take him to a room. Jack immediately stepped over to the gate and began to inspect the mechanism and investigate the way it worked until his own therapist came to take him to his session.

I was fascinated by this whole exchange. I wondered if Jack picked up on the difference in the other child and didn't have a word other than autism with which to describe that difference. After the session, when we were back in the car driving home, I decided to ask Jack about it, although I was unsure that I would get any sort of response.

"Jack, why did you think that other little boy had autism?" I asked.

Jack was quiet for a minute, then said, "Because he was curious."

Cool, huh?

I love that curiosity is the common bond that Jack picked up on. I love that although Jack is aware that his autism makes him different than most of the other kids he knows, he sees such a great quality as being curious as a defining characteristic. I love both the inquisitiveness and self awareness that he is starting to demonstrate.

Flat out, I just love that kid.


  1. I love this! And you know I love that curious Jack...

  2. Hi friends, if you posted a comment on this post earlier and it's not here now, it is because my stupid commenting system seems to be having some sort of breakdown. Bear with me. I'm going to move to a different commenting platform soon.

  3. I needed this today. Gives me hope for my "curious boy". Jack rocks, plain and simple...

  4. Hi everyone! I'm trying a new comment system here as my last one seems to have imploded. Hopefully all my other comments will be imported soon and all your words of wisdom will be available!

  5. Stimey in disguise. *Shhhhhh!*March 10, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    ...aaaaaand last test.

  6. And I was all, "WHERE'D ALL YOUR COMMENTS GO!!!"  
    I'm glad you talked me down a notch...

    I love that Jack's becoming more self aware and aware of others.  I just keep thinking how cool that is.  Way cool.  

  7. first of all, now I have no p-value in this new comment system and I am of course furious about that.  I've worked for months inanely commenting every blessed post of yours in the hopes that my p-value will go through the roof.

    Now the only other person with the p-value comments is jillsmo.

    second of all.  I had to stare at that picture forever to find jack.  I didn't see his eyes.  He's like a blanket ninja.

    Finally. . . Jack would like me.  I'm also curious.

  8.  I love this post with all of my heart. We've always been open with Casey and the other kids about his autism. Casey doesn't quite comprehend it. I didn't know how to tell him. I love what you said about how everyone's brains work differently, and the way his works is called autism. I'm actually going to use that with Casey today. I'm not sure if he's functioning enough in that area to get it.

    Which is the true joy about autism. Casey reads, he writes, he's affectionate and a comedic GENIUS, but he can't really tell me how he's feeling and doesn't understand that there's anything different about it.

    I love that he was under a chair at the office. I love that you let him be under a chair. It says so much about your approach. Awesome.

    I'm new to this world of autism bloggers, but I'm hoping to one day have a P-value that far surpasses Jim's. It's my new goal in life (and because of it I had to get rid of one now I'm going to eat my body weight in cake and Doritos). 

  9.  Just kidding. After reading more on Jim's effing blog, there's no way my p value will be higher.

    I'm off to implement plan b- a super sweet cult.

    sorry to hijack a very awesome post. I blame Jim. Again.

  10. This is wonderful! My daughter knows she has autism too, and like yourself, I've told her it just means her brain works differently...not better or worse, just different.  

  11. The Querulous SquirrelMarch 12, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    You convey his lovability incredibly well

  12. And I flat-out love that kid, too. And all our kids with those yummy "different" type brains. (Um, did I just sound too much like a zombie there? Really I meant "yummy" metaphorically. Really.... Braaaaaains!)

  13. I so love Jack's observation - Because he was curious.
    Also?  Is everyone substituting codes like &#039t for, you know, punctuation?  Or is that just my browser?  

  14. Yikes.  So, what I see when I read your comments above is like this:  

    & # 0 3 9 t, rather than 

    quote + t. 

  15.  I think it might be because of the import of comments from my old commenting system to this one. Rest assured that it's not you. :)

  16. The first time Joseph verbalized to someone else (outside our family) that he has autism was at Legoland and California.  There was a large group of autistic children and their parents there that day and we kept seeing them all over the park.  Joseph was just fascinated.  We were in line for a ride and in front of us was a woman with a boy about Joseph's age.  The boy was wearing a shirt that had the name of the group they were with. I watched Joseph looking at the boy for a long time.  All of the sudden he said loudly "Excuse me! Is your boy autistic?" (I love the way he phrases things.) The woman said that he was and Joseph got this HUGE smile on his face and said "Me too! I'm autistic too!" Later he told me he didn't know there were other kids like him. I was shocked.  We had spent so much time talking to him about autism and how it was his "normal" and he knows other autistic kids so I assumed he knew he wasn't the only one.  I think he though that he is so unaware of people's differences that he never even picked up on the sameness or differences of the people around him.  He needed it spelled out on a t-shirt. Obviously after that we tried to do a better job pointing out other people we knew who were "different" but that whole encounter was so eye-opening to me in many way. 


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